Sunday, 16 August 2015

Book Review: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls by Futaro Yamada

So, this is the book that I read on the way to Chiran. Because I got this book on a whim, I didn't know what to expect. I mean, I haven't even watched Basilisk or Shinobi. All I knew, before I started reading, was that the body count of this book was pretty high. (Thanks Nicholas =.=)

That was an understatement. [MILD SPOILER ALERT] This book was gripping, fast-paced, and one of the most depressing books that I've ever read. The most accurate description I can give is "and everyone dies."

Ok, there's a bit more to it. The book starts with Tokugawa Ieyasu trying to decide who is going to be his heir. And instead of doing the normal thing and having said heirs compete among themselves, he decides to let two ninja clans kill each other, and the last clan standing will decide who his heir is. Yeah, I don't really get it either. But, with that decision, the war between the Kouga and Iga ninja clans resume.

But, Gennosuke (the heir to the Kouga) and Oboro (heir to the Iga) are in love and engaged to each other. Oops. Now they have to kill each other, but can they? (Meanwhile, their clansmen are ecstatic that the ban on killing is lifted)

All the ninjas here have inhuman powers. Just take the two protagonists - Gennosuke has basilisk eyes, and Oboro can pretty much stop any ninja power. So despite the book starting out as "although they [the ninja] were still human", it basically ignores that line from, I don't know, the next chapter onwards and has the power of each ninja become more and more unbelievable. (Seriously, there's a ninja who basically melts in salt. HE MELTS AND THEN REGAINS HUMAN SHAPE. He's not human, he's a human-slug hybrid).

By the way, the characters of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hattori Hanzo (basically, the normal "humans") do exist, and the Kouga and Iga were ninja clans. But I wouldn't take anything else as historically accurate. Just enjoy the book for what it is - a depressing Romeo and Juliet story.

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